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Winnie Mandela, Coretta King Have Emotional Visit

September 11, 1986|From Times Wire Services

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Coretta Scott King traveled into the troubled black township of Soweto today for an emotional meeting with Winnie Mandela, two days after gaining favor with South Africa's black-rights militants by canceling a session with President Pieter W. Botha.

Fighting back tears, King and Mandela embraced on the tiny lawn of Mandela's brick bungalow in the heart of the sprawling township that has been racked by years of political violence.

"This has been one of the most emotional moments in my life. . . . I feel that part of my destiny has been fulfilled," the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. told reporters.

"I feel a great blessing to finally meet Winnie and touch her," she added.

Mandela, whose husband, Nelson, the black nationalist leader, has been imprisoned for 24 years, said King was a symbol to South African blacks struggling for political rights.

Last weekend, Winnie Mandela and other anti-apartheid leaders had criticized King for requesting a meeting with President Botha while South Africa is under emergency rule and thousands are detained without trial.

Snubbed the President

King snubbed the president at the last minute by failing to appear for their meeting.

Mandela, who reportedly had vowed not to see King if she met with Botha, declined to answer today when asked if she was pleased with King's cancellation of that meeting.

"That was a private matter," Mandela said.

Mandela said of her 75-minute talk with King: "I am as emotionally moved as she is."

King, who arrived in South Africa last week for the installation of Desmond Tutu as Anglican archbishop of Cape Town and to discuss apartheid issues with a cross section of South Africans, was to leave later today for the United States.

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